Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Group Tries to Debunk Shroud of Turin - An Italian
group claims it has been able to reproduce the famed Shroud
of Turin - supposedly the cloth that covered Jesus in the
tomb - using methods and materials available in the 14 century.
The shroud shows the image of a crucified man. This has
led some to believe it Christ's "picture" was recorded on
the cloth by a miracle during his resurrection. Luigi Garlaschelli,
a professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia, said
that his team used linen woven with the same technique as
the shroud and then aged it by heating and washing. The
cloth was then laid over a volunteer, who wore a mask to
reproduce the face, and rubbed with red ochre, a well-known
pigment at the time. According to Garlaschelli the process
took a week. If the experiment can be reproduced by others
it may go a long way toward proving the cloth is a medieval
New 4.4 Million-Year-Old Human Remains Found -
Researchers have unveiled to the public a 4.4 million-year-old
skeleton of a hominid female that appears to be man's earliest
known ancestor. Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed "Ardi,"
lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Aramis, Ethiopia.
This makes this specimen more than a million years older
than the Lucy, the partial ape-human skeleton found in Africa
in 1974. "What Ardipithecus tells us is that we as humans
have been evolving to what we are today for at least 6 million
years," C. Owen Lovejoy, an evolutionary biologist at Kent
State University and project anatomist. Researchers hypothesize
that humans took a different evolutionary trajectory from
those of chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas. Ardi challenges
earlier beliefs that humans evolved from chimpanzees, our
closest genetic relatives.
Researchers Find Dinosaur Stampede - Scientists
from Brigham Young University have found a site in near
Moab, Utah, where thousands of dinosaur bones lay crushed
as the result of an ancient stampede. "Although enough bones
were recovered to assemble several complete dinosaurs, the
vast majority of bones are broken to bits and pieces, just
pulverized," said BYU professor Brooks Britt, lead author
on the study. Scientists have identified 67 individual dinosaurs
representing 8 species so far out of the estimated 4,200
bones at the site. The location of this dense cluster of
bones - near the shore of an ancient lake bed - suggests
a drought was the cause of the incident with huge 30-ton
sauropod dinosaurs walking over dead and dying smaller animals
and crushing their bones while trying to get to the water
to drink. "Some of these bones were almost 5 feet long,
and they are green, and you really have to work hard to
shatter bone that's still green," Britt said. "That means
the big boys were stepping on those things. Those would
have been audible, big snaps."
Ida Not Our Relative - Last May some scientists
hailed a fossil referred to as Ida as "our earliest ancestor."
Now another group of researchers claims that not only is
Ida not a human ancestor, but that it does not even belong
in the same primate category as monkeys, apes and humans.
Instead it belongs in another major grouping, which includes
lemurs. Erik Seiffert of Stony Brook University in New York
and his colleagues compared 360 specific anatomical features
of 117 living and extinct primate species to draw up a family
tree. There work suggests that Ida, an example of the species
Darwinius, is as about as far removed from monkey-ape-human
ancestry as a primate could be. Their report is in this
month's issue of the journal Nature.
New Leonardo Work Found - A painting bought at
an auction 2 years ago for $19,000 may now be worth over
$150 million if it turns out that a new assessment that
it was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci is right. The painting,
"Profile of the Bella Principessa," was thought to be the
work of a 19th-century German until a fingerprint of an
index or middle finger was found on the painting that matched
a fingerprint from Leonardo's "St. Jerome" in the Vatican.
"Leonardo used his hands liberally and frequently as part
of his painting technique. His fingerprints are found on
many of his works," explains Peter Paul Biro the Montreal-based
forensic art expert who found the print. "I was able to
make use of multispectral images to make a little smudge
a very readable fingerprint." If experts are correct, it
will be the first major work by Leonardo to be identified
in 100 years.
Science Quote of the Month - "Shall
I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the
process of digestion?" - Oliver Heaviside
New at the Museum:
The End of the World?
- Books, internet sites and now even a major motion
picture suggest that bad things are going to happen on December
21, 2012. Is any of this craziness based on scientific fact?
Moon's Strange Orbit - Does the moon
revolve the Earth directly above equator? If yes, does it
mean that people in upper northern hemisphere will be see
it on the horizon? - Anonymous
Our moon, unlike
most moons in our solar system, does not follow a path directly
above its planet's equator. Instead, our moon follows an
orbital path very much closer to Earth's ecliptic plane.
Earth's ecliptic is the path Earth follows as it orbits
earth's equator is tilted off its ecliptic by a little more
than 23 degrees. This angle is what gives us the seasons
as the northern hemisphere is more tilted toward the sun
during the summer and away from the sun in the winter (The
opposite is true for the southern hemisphere where the seasons
there are reversed).
This tilt also
explains why the moon traces a different path across the
sky depending on the season. Like the sun, during the winter
it is closer to the horizon. In fact, further north than
the Arctic Circle the moon will not be visible for 14 days
at a time as it passes out of sight behind the tilt of our
planet for half of its orbit. Or course when it does re-emerge
it rises and stays up for fourteen days (The same is true
at the Antarctic Circle).
The fact that
the moon orbits close to the Earth's ecliptic plane has
been used as evidence against the theory that the moon was
created at the same time the Earth. In this theory, most
of the spinning material in the region of Earth was pulled
together by gravity to form our planet, but some of pulled
together to form the moon. If that was the case, however,
we would expect out moon to be orbiting along the equator.
The current leading theory as to the creation of the moon
is that a body the size of Mars hit Earth throwing massive
amounts of material into orbit. Over the course of the next
century this material was drawn together by gravity to form
Batman Sighting - On a fall afternoon in 1956
a man living in the vicinity of Falls City, Nebraska, reported
a humanoid flying figure with a "very frightening, almost
demonic" face and bat-like wings. The creature was flew
about 15 feet above the ground and was reportedly between
eight and nine feet tall. The winged humanoid flew over
the man, and then disappeared among the trees. No explanation
is known for this sighting and the man said he suffered
terrifying nightmares about this incident for the next twenty
Leonids Shower - November brings the Leonids
Meteor Shower. A meteor shower occurs when the Earth encounters
debris left a comet. In this case it is the comet Tempel-Tuttle
which is responsible for the show. The shower is expected
to peak on the Predawn hours of November 17th. The shooting
stars will appear to come from the constellation Leo which
will rise until after midnight.
Earhart Died on Nikumaroro - The International
Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) says that
it is likely that famous female aviator died on an uninhabited
tropical island in the southwestern Pacific. The island,
named Nikumaroro, was some 300 miles southeast of Earhart's
target destination, Howland Island. A number of artifacts
recovered by TIGHAR suggest that Earhart and her navigator,
Fred Noonan, made a forced landing on the island's smooth,
flat coral reef. Also in 1940 British Colonial Service officer
Gerald Gallagher recovered a partial skeleton of a castaway
on Nikumaroro. The description of the remains seems consistent
with Earhart, though the bones have since been misplaced.
Although conventional wisdom is that Earhart's place crashed
at sea, TIGHAR is convinced that the evidence points to
a forced landing on Nikumaroro. Earhart's life is the subject
of a new movie starring Hilary Swank.
check local listing for area outside of North America.
NOVA: Becoming Human - A three
part series by Nova on PBS. Tuesday, October 20 at 8 pm
- First Steps:November 3 at 8 pm; Birth of Humanity:
.November 10 at 8 pm; Last Human Standing: November
17 at 8 pm; ET/PT.
Science of the Movies Zombies! - Nar meets Garrett Brown, Oscar-winning inventor of the Steadicam and
Skycam; Nar gets a zombie makeover from Quantum Creation
FX and explores the science of the undead; Obscura Digital
unveils the future of entertainment with effects from Minority
Report. On The Science Channel. Nov 12, 8:00 pm; Nov 12,
11:00 pm ET/PT.
Mystery of the Persian Mummy - Encased in a gilded wooden coffin inside a stone sarcophagus, a Persian
Princess mummy over 2,600 years old was found. Follow the
discoveries that turned this archaeological treasure into
a murder hunt. On The Science Channel. Nov 09, 8:00 pm;
Nov 09, 11:00 pm; Nov 10, 3:00 pm; Nov 11, 3:00 am; ET/PT.
On The Science Channel
Can We Make a Star on Earth - Three minutes after the Big Bang, something remarkable happened. A phenomenon
emerged that would go on to forge all matter in the universe;
a kind of nuclear reaction that millions of years later
would light the up first stars...Nuclear Fusio
. Nov 03, 10:00 pm; Nov 04, 1:00 am; Nov 04, 5:00 pm; Nov 05, 5:00 am;
On The History Channel
The Universe : Science Fiction. Science Fact - Warp speed, transporters, wormholes and lasers--they are all staples
of science fiction books, movies, and TV shows. But the
fantastic world of tomorrow is quickly becoming the futuristic
world of today. While you may not be "beaming" to your next
appointment any time soon, researchers are preparing for
the first tests of a present-day "transporter." And while
scientists have long mocked Hollywood's visions of warp
speed and faster-than-light travel as prohibited by Einstein's
laws, a new generation of physicists continues to rewrite
the fundamental rules of the universe. Is there a way around
the cosmic speed limit? Maybe... as long as you're prepared
to survive a journey through the ultra-high energies of
one of the most violent places in the cosmos--the heart
of a twisting, swirling vortex that leads either to strange,
new worlds... or certain death.
. Tuesday November 03 09:00 PM; ET/PT
Jesse James' Hidden Treasure - By the time Jesse James was killed in 1882, he'd stolen over a million
and a half dollars according to some estimates--gold, coins
and cash that could be worth over $50 million today. History
often paints James as a clever outlaw who stole money to
finance a lavish criminal lifestyle, a man whose sixteen
year long crime spree came to a dramatic halt in 1882 when
a fellow gang member betrayed him and shot him dead in the
back of the head. But now, a treasure hunt may reveal a
totally new story. Was Jesse really stealing for himself,
or was he actually secreting away large sums of wealth,
in order to finance one of the most clandestine secret societies
in American history? Follow a team of treasure hunters searching
for where he stashed his riches... and a new truth about
Jesse James. Their discoveries may not only re-write the
history of why Jesse stole, it could also raise new questions
about his death. On The History Channel. Monday, November
09 08:00 PM; Tuesday, November 10 12:00 AM; ET/PT.
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